The Birth of Hi-Fi


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

February 25, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 18

Hi-Fi & Stereo

By Thomas W. Dowd

High Fidelity, the exact electrical reproduction of sound, began less than 10 years ago as the exacting hobby of a small group of avid audiophiles. Within a few years the fad had mushroomed into a multi-million-dollar industry, bringing musical enjoyment through records and tapes of concert-hall realism into the homes of more than one million New Yorkers.

Not until the fine jazz and swing bands of the late 30’s did record collecting come back into its own. But the big breakthrough came only a decade ago. For more than 60 years, the music world had wanted a recorded symphony that could be played on a single record. In 1947, Columbia Records made the grade. An LP hit the market with up to 30 minutes on a side.

Until the past 10 years, a record that ranged from 100 to 5000 cycles of sound per second (a sound-spectrum span roughly equivalent to today’s table-model radio) was considered a good one. Higher and higher fidelity was demanded by good-music enthusiasts and pressed into record grooves. The standard now is approximately 30 to 16,000 cycles—from low-pedal organ note to beyond the range of the human ear…

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